National Scout Reserve Pedestrian Bridge Competition

2010 | Glen Jean WV

Client Trinity Works and The Boy Scouts of America
Lead Designer and Structural Engineer Guy Nordenson and Associates

The Tree Bridge is a 700ft cable-stayed steel structure that expresses an artful balance of tension and compression, providing an efficient means of spanning the site's gorge at The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean WV. The concept is inspired by the principles of tensegrity, “islands of compression in a sea of tension” as it has been described by the inventors Buckminster Fuller and Kenneth Snelson. The compression members are steel masts or “trees” supported at their ends by stay cables in tension. Although the masts may at first appear to be vertical supports holding up the bridge, they are in fact suspended above the ground by the tension in the cables. Between the ends of the bridge, only two masts extend to the ground as tower supports. The others hover above the ground plane at varying heights. At the lowest point in the gorge, the masts are more than 60ft above the ground, while on the hillside they float as close as 10ft above the ground, almost within reach.